The health tech sector, a catchall term for all organizations that digitize healthcare, was in the spotlight in 2021, also when it comes to investments and business sales. With a major acquisition by Oracle in the last weeks of 2021, health tech came even more into the spotlight. A brief overview.

When it comes to mergers and takeovers2021 was a record year. The economy recovered rapidly after the terrible 2020 for many entrepreneurs. Support measures from governments and central banks ensured that a large amount of cheap credit was available.

Hausse to M&A

These trends together led to an enormous boom in M&A (mergers & acquisitions), both by so-called strategic buyers (companies that buy companies) and by investment funds (e.g. private equity or pension funds). Final figures are not yet available at the time of this writing, but it has been clear for several weeks that never so much money was spent in M&A as in 2021.

Technology companies are at the top of all lists. This mainly concerns the major American players who are further strengthening, like both Microsoft as Amazon did. But the layers below were also buzzing with energy. Just like the past few years, there a lot of money to spend in fintech sector: companies that are shaking up the traditional financial sector with smart and digital services. The Netherlands itself has a number of fintech champions, such as payment platform Adyen, neo-bank Bunq and broker Bux.

Digitization of health

But the most striking is the health tech sector. The digitization of the health sector is generally a lot slower than that of other sectors. Where fintech has been a world of many initiatives for years now, with sometimes enormous growth percentages, high investments and / or dream exits, health tech turned out to attract far fewer investors.

This phenomenon has a lot to do with the privacy sensitivity of patient data: many patients are wary of healthcare providers sharing it. Or also consider the way in which care is structured. Each country has its own often complex palette of government, semi-government and entrepreneurial initiatives. Moreover, they do not always work well and like to work together. Scalability and growth of new digital services would then seem a long way off.

Suddenly big deals

More and more companies are finding a solution for this complexity; that also attracts big money. 2021 saw a long string of deals in health technology – culminating in December with the largest ever health tech deal: Oracle, known as a provider of IT infrastructure, it also buys American Cerner for 26 billion euros. Cerner, a 40-year-old company, specializes in digital communication around patient data.

At first sight, the acquisition (also the largest ever for Oracle) is a strange move for Oracle. But more of the 'old' guard technology companies are trying to transform themselves through acquisitions into companies with a portfolio of so-called cloud services: everything online. Health tech is therefore still a little trodden path due to its complex history.

Philips and Siemens

Health tech is also booming in Europe. Our own Philips has been profiling itself more and more for years as a producer of medical equipment on the one hand (which, by the way, mixed success) and health tech software and IT services on the other. In Germany competitor Siemens Healthineers has an ambitious growth strategy in the same area.

The pure health tech players are certainly also particularly interesting: young companies that, just like in fintech, try to challenge the established order. disrupt (as it's called), and they try to grow through investment rounds or M&A. 

Messaging for healthcare professionals

The Dutch Siilo, a secure messaging app for healthcare professionals, received already in 2018 an investment by investment fund EQT Ventures (founded by the Dutch investor Kees Koolen) and received 10 million euros in a second investment round from Philips Health Technology Ventures, among others. Also Main Capital Partners – an investment company in software companies from The Hague – aims at health tech.

Technology and health: 2021 probably marked just the beginning of many exciting developments.